Was it all so bad? All that optimism in the 1960s? All that belief that the world could change, that all people were inherently heading for the same good, if only they could be loosened from the shackles that bound them.
40 odd years on, it looks to me like everybody had their own optimism and saw shackles on everyone else that were not really there. People were trying to change people even when they had no desire for change. The 1960s young adults behaved like the boy scouts on the Muppet Show; a cry of “You need First Aid” and bandages wrapped round every unsuspecting creature whether needed or not.
Then again I wasn’t there. I come from a deeply cynical, dark generation whose parents had gone around breaking shackles, finding new freedoms and inventing their own truths. Some of us were left high and dry, no moral guidance (you’ll find your own way, your own truth), nothing to cling to, no prayers etched on our hearts, no knowledge of our guardian angel, nothing to cling to with child like trust when things got really bad.
So now, reconciled with the Church, I hunger after Truth, I yearn for continuity and tradition, I seek beauty and silence and yet there is something dark within my soul. My parents’ generation sought to find Christ in all they met, they broke down barriers, they tore away at conventions, their love was radical and in many ways long lasting. Is my love deeper than theirs? I don’t think so, some of the light that drove them cast a deep shadow on me, leaving me introverted, introspective and suspicious, not exactly brimming with Christian virtues.
Many of those who entered the priesthood 40-50 years ago, have that radical love and it remains within them. They are caring pastors who will go the extra mile for anyone in need. They have effectively stuffed clericalism into the trash can where it belongs. They love Christ and are His devoted servants. Yet they feel something dark, they feel their light is threatened, they feel betrayed. They think they see in the Church today, something that shouldn’t be there, a return of blessings upon the elder son at the expense of a welcome for his “prodigal” brother. Yet their “kvetchings and mumblings” of betrayal leave them, to me, sounding like the Pharisees that Our Lord just couldn’t get through to no matter how hard he tried. In other words, they have become the elder son; loved but unloving. However this doesn’t stop me feeling for them with deep sorrow and love.
We are in a time of testing, we are being purified on our pilgrim way. It is only Christ who will lead us all home.
Remember folks, this is about “How deep is your love?” not “How deep is your lace?”